How to Become a Failure

1. Choose financial success as your only motivation. When selecting a Major in college or a new job, only choose those that will supposedly bring you the most money.

2. Whenever you meet a successful person in your field, immediately decide that they got to their place in life because they slept with the right people, had connections, or were lucky.

3. Collect stories about people who became rich and successful through a stroke of luck. Reject stories of those who worked hard to achieve success by explaining them in terms of the previous point.

4. Whenever you are passed by for promotion or get your article rejected, immediately conclude that people have conspired to keep you down because they are intimidated by your brilliance.

5. Never contemplate the possibility that your work might be far from perfect and you still might need to learn and improve. You are a hundred times brighter than most other people in your field and deserve to be at least as successful as they are with no extra effort.

6. Conclude that the world is basically unfair, so it makes no need to keep trying.

7. See every sign of economic well-being in a colleague or friend as a sign that they sold their soul.

8. Constantly imagine yourself on your own yacht in the Caribbean but, whatever you do, do not create a practical strategy of how you can get there.

9. Remember that working hard for decades to reap the rewards later on in life is not for you. You deserve the best and you should be getting it right now.

10. Choose a group of people who are to blame for everything that goes wrong in your life: women, Jews, Arabs, gays, immigrants, the disabled. Come what may, dont forget that it is all their fault.

Other suggestions to the list are welcome.

25 thoughts on “How to Become a Failure”

  1. I am skeptical about #8. I think that if you really do this visualization consistently, your brain will make plans to get there in spite of your best efforts at inaction.


  2. But #4 *is* exactly why I never get a promotion! Are you deliberately undermining my utter and intimidating brilliance, Clarissa? =)


  3. Oh oh! I’ve got one to add: When and if you do deign to work on something, make sure it combating whatever system/persons you think are unfair/hindering you, rather than your real job or tasks that might actually get you promoted.


  4. One I’d add: Ask other people for help, and as soon as the assistance is given, ignore their contribution and take all the credit for yourself, and miss the chance to create a friend and ally in favour of poisoning your coworkers against you.


  5. In the USSR, you were assigned a place of employment. Here, people are free to choose. So any professional misery is of one’s own making, I think. I’m surrounded by people who love their jobs passionately, though.


    1. First of all, if money is indeed one’s only motivation, it has to work fine. When you say it leads to a “boring” job, you forget that the person in question doesn’t see anything as boring or interesting. For him/her, it either pays or doesn’t pay, and that’s all there is to it.

      Secondly, I am pretty sure that, the louder one claims to “just work for money”, the more likely it is that he/she is lying to oneself and others. The real reasons are different, and it’s them, not “working for money”, that cause the feeling of failure in the end.


      1. They may achieve monetary wealth – but from my experience, they are generally very miserable people. Don’t mistake ‘achieving an end’ (making more money) with being a success in life. My experiences lead me to agree with Clarissa – they may have money, but they’ll still ‘feel’ like a failure, because they’ve missed out on life.


  6. @Patrick

    A friend of mine has direct contact with numerous billionaires. One day he asked one of them when enough was enough. The gentleman replied that the only thing the money was for was to keep score. He viewed it like a game and he wanted to win. I think if you view life from that perspective you arent necessarily missing out. From your perspective maybe, but not his.


    1. Then I would say that the money isn’t a motivator, but a tool. In which case, they are on a different path. Chasing money is like becoming a teacher because you get summers off. You may end up with what you want, but they’re rarely happy.


        1. I didn’t respond to the other points, because they are 1) so blatantly obvious correct and 2) People often confuse wealth with success.


          1. That’s the thing. Say you buy the super duper expensive yacht of your dreams, but there is no one to share it with. Then what’s the point? Or you are already so exhausted from working a job you hate for twenty years that you can’t even enjoy it. I’d love to have a yacht to sail with my husband but I’m not going to be miserable if I never get it.


        2. I agree, too. Here’s a nice video about this very idea, that it’s not really money that truly motivates us to perform.


          1. Excellent video – can’t disagree with any point he makes – and the drawing was awesome. Too few people recognize the importance of purpose, autonomy and mastery at work – they wait for someone to tell them exactly what to do, how and when to do it. Then wonder when they are miserable and hate their job.


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